Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Mending Broken Hearts

 Image from www.bhf.org.uk

Last Valentine's I wrote a post about innovation of the recellularisation of the human heart.  The intention being to refine human heart transplant surgery, eventually to allow the transplant of a clone of a person's own heart or part, when it is medically needed.  I explained the existing difficulties of organ donation transplant in the post.  It is something that I continue to follow, in supporting the work of the British Heart Foundation and my belief in regenerative medicine as the future for many currently incurable afflictions. 

When efforts to clone a human heart were reported, there followed many deflating pronouncements of "science fiction".  There will always be detractors to forward thinking, but had intellectual and lateral minds never reached far, we would be living in an innovation vacuum and without much to admire.  Some detractors, balance the discussion and have a place in maintaining ethics and dignity for the patient experience. I know from understanding patient experiences, that whether it be from physical or mental affliction, if we are sound, we must possess our own bodies and minds and make decisions for ourselves and our own bodies, which should be respected. 

Here are some of the recent advancements in regenerative medicine:

The future human rebuilding heart muscle  - "Nothing is less in our power than the heart," Jean-Jacques Rousseau
The Zebra fish can repair it's own heart; unlocking the secrets of how they do this.
Studying the early development of the heart; we were able to grow a whole heart before we were born, but later in life we can't repair our hearts if they are damaged.
Rebuilding heart tissue;  new source for heart cells, building a "heart-patch" and epicardium and thymosin beta4
Ethics of stem cell research funded by BHF.

Regenerative medicine in surgery and response; cancer-patient-synthetic-organ-transplanttransplant-synthetic-trachea-in-baltimore-man, brain tissue cloning breakthrough mental illness, neurologic-improvement-detected-in-rats-receiving-stem-cell-transplant/

I write this on my blog, primarily because innovation in heart medicine is something that has personal importance, but I also have an international readership to my blog, whom I really respect.  Scientific research and innovation is carried out throughout the world, and though the work of the BHF is based in the UK, this knowledge needs to be spread as widely as possible.  There is a long way still to go in the science of regenerative medicine, but it is an important way to our future. As individuals, we direct what is important and has meaning in this world and this is a powerful tool to remember and apply with wisdom.  Thank you for taking the time to read.   

For all my learning, my heart beats louder............


  1. This is so interesting. Now you've given me some reading material!

  2. Thank you for writing the blog post I would have liked to have written myself. Sometimes, I feel that if I were to start talking about heart disease, I'll never stop, so I mostly try to contain myself. BUT, on a day like today when I'm seeing perfectly formed symmetrical hearts everywhere and then I read your post, I'm almost afraid to keep it inside. My 5 yr old has had multiple heart surgeries and the amazing drs have done their very best with an incredibly awkward defect. She's fine for now, but the next option if she were go into heart failure as she grows, is a heart transplant. I'm hoping there is plenty of time for research and innovation before my daughter would need anything like this, but I'm so aware that so many others don't have that luxury. Instead of celebrating Valentine's Day with cards and chocolates, my husband and I have donated to the British Heart Foundation in honor of our girl.
    There's so much more I could say, but I don't want to completely hijack your comments section! Thanks again!

    1. Hello Emma, your comment took me straight back to Bristol Childrens Hospital when our little boy was born 8 years ago. He was born with a heart defect and had surgery at 8 days old. He is ok now but I can't begin to imagine what you, your husband and your daughter are going through. Your comment really moved me and we don't normally do anything for Valentines day but from now on we are going to do the same and make a donation to the British Heart Foundation. That is such a good idea.

    2. Hello Emma

      Thank you for reading my post and opening up and sharing your moving experience. It really touched me, that you felt you could do this because I understand how difficult it is to open up and yet not let go completely, and the natural response is to keep something so dear, to yourself. I believe passionately, that it will be in our lifetimes' that regenerative medicine will become refined to make a difference to your daughter's well being, knowing what I do from the BHF funded research and the heart surgery carried out by leading cardiac centres such as Papworth's who focus on refining surgery and after care practices. Thank you again and I am sending alot of love your way x

  3. Replies
    1. Hello Sarah

      Thank you for sharing your experience with us and I am happy to hear that your little boy is doing well : )

      I wrote this blog post because I understand how important the subject and research, I know that the BHF will greatly appreciate your contributions to their cause.

      Thanks again and lots of love x

    2. Hi Sarah, I'm also so happy to hear your little boy is doing so well. Aren't kids amazing?!?! I'm so glad you felt moved to donate to the BHF. Seems like THE best way to recognize Valentine's Day, when you think about it! All the best to you and your little boy.

  4. Thanks for the reply. I hope you are right about the future of research into heart disease. We live in the US but there seems so much controversy here about stem cell research etc. Luckily my daughter has dual nationality US/GB, so she has the option for both places. Having said that, she's been given a great chance at a healthy childhood by the best surgeons here (who happened to do much of their training in the UK). Anyway, sending you lots of love also - this is obviously something dear to your heart too. :)